In SCC, a New Sheriff (Deputy) in Town
By Mitch Traphagen
SUN CITY CENTER - Veteran Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Deputy Chris Girard has been named Sun City Center Community Resource Officer, replacing Deputy Rob Thornton. Thornton held the position for the past seven years. Girard comes to Sun City Center from the HCSO Street Crimes Unit. He was previously the community resource officer for Ruskin.
Girard has been with the Sheriff’s Office since 1998. In addition to his work in Ruskin, his experience runs the gamut from the jails to working with the Department of Children and Families.
HCSO Major Ron Hartley said Girard had earned the position. “Deputy Girard is a cross between Matt Dillon and Andy of Mayberry,” Hartley stated. “Andy of Mayberry knew everybody in town and took care of their problems. Matt Dillon was there to run the bad guys out of town. That is exactly what he is. He has experience in undercover work, he has been a patrol officer and he has been an investigator.”
Despite his broad experience with the Sheriff’s Office, his first weeks in the community have been a learning experience.
For most residents, Sun City Center is a quiet place by evening, for Deputy Girard, nightfall is just the beginning.
“He has the flexibility to work the hours he needs to work,” Major Hartley said. “He may be doing all-night stakeouts.”
That was confirmed by former Community Resource Deputy Thornton.
“The majority of residents are at home by 9:30 but the bad guys come out at night,” Thornton said. “If there is a problem that occurs after dark, Chris will be out here after dark to solve that problem.”
All three officers, Girard, Thornton and Hartley, credit the Sun City Center Security Patrol for their hard work in keeping the community safe.
“The security patrol is the eyes and ears out there when I’m not there,” Girard said.
While Girard invites people in the community to visit the security patrol office, he emphasizes that much of his job will take place outside of the office. It is also important to keep in mind that in any emergency situation, residents of the community should dial 911.
“I’ve been meeting with people at the meetings and with the groups here and people are welcome to stop by,” Girard said. “But if I’m not in the office, I’m out in the community. This is not a desk job. I’ll be out dealing with a crime issue or with a traffic issue. But I am their deputy and people are always welcome.”
Along with the day-to-day issues, Girard plans to work towards becoming proactive on matters specific to Sun City Center.
“One of the things I want to focus on is educating people about certain types of crime — crimes against the elderly, fraud, purse snatchings, things like that,” he said. “I want to help deter those crimes.”
Deputy Girard is also ready for the unexpected and situations beyond the scope of day-to-day issues.
“In an emergency such as a hurricane, I have the backing of the entire Sheriff’s Office,” he said. As deputies, we are prepared for catastrophes. Some areas are more susceptible to problems and we know that. We are not EMTs but we are trained to handle emergencies.”
According to Major Ron Hartley, not only is Sun City Center important to the Sheriff’s Office, so is the person assigned to protect the community.
“Sun City Center is not a proving ground,” Hartley said. “It is the proven ground. It is a place we send deputies that have already proven themselves.”
And now Girard is proving himself to the community.
“My number one focus is safety and crime deterrence,” he said. “To Sun City Center, I am here for you. I am your community resource deputy.”